University of Michigan allowed to craft its own gun regulations, court rules
Most colleges do not allow students or faculty to carry firearms on campus—and a court decision may have just given some constitutional weight to those regulations.
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed that the University of Michigan’s 2001 ordinance banning firearms on its campus is within the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment, reports Inside Higher Ed.
The Court of Appeals’s 2-1 ruling, which upheld a ruling from a lower court, “sided with the university, ruling that the school is a “sensitive place,” as established in 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling District of Columbia v. Heller, where restrictions on the Second Amendment can be legal.” Additionally, the court held that the university does not fall under the rubric of “city, village township or county,” all four of which are prohibited from enacting their own gun regulations in the state.
“We conclude, again, that the Legislature clearly limited the reach of [the law] to firearm regulations enacted by cities, villages, townships and counties,” Judge Mark J. Cavanagh wrote for the court’s majority opinion. “The university is not similarly situated to these entities; rather, it is a state-level, not a lower level or inferior level, governmental entity.”
The court also noted the “unique character” of the university’s Board of Regents, citing the rights of the university for “matters involving the university’s management and control of its institution or property.”
Dulan, Wade’s attorney, said he disagreed with the court’s ruling regarding the Board of Regents, and he believes the court has given the body too much power.
“Essentially, what’s happened is the Court of Appeals has place the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan on a co-equal status with the Michigan Legislature,” he said.
Dissenting, Judge David H. Sawyer focused on the authority of the university to regulate the possession of firearms for nonstudents and the general public who, as he notes, are legally allowed to carry guns in public spaces. He argued that a gun ban shouldn’t be able to apply to parts of campus that are accessible to the general public, though he wrote he wished to “leave to another case the questions of defendant’s authority to regulate the possession of firearms by its students or employees, or in areas in which the general public are prohibited access.”
The dissenting judge argued that though the college is “not a city, village, township or county, [it] is still pre-empted by state law in general.”
“I do not,” wrote Judge Sawyer, “view applying pre-emption to the issue of firearm possession as invading either the university’s educational or financial autonomy.”